Herman is my car ghost and/or my car depending on how I’m feeling and how he is behaving. Herman is a Mercury Villager Minivan that my parents sent me last year. First, it was my mom’s and then, it was my dad’s and now it is mine.
It isn’t that easy to send someone a car. It seemed to take forever for the van to get here. First, my parents had to find a company that would put the van on a trailer and drive it from North Carolina to Colorado. Then they had to wait for the company to come to pick up the van and were told that it could be any day within a two-week period. Of course, that is the way things are done in North Carolina. S l o w l y. Then the van had to be driven to me and I had to meet the driver to get the van.
So,why did my parents send me a van? When we moved to Colorado from Illinois, we left an unsold house behind. Chris moved to Colorado in July of 2006 and the boys and I came out in June of 2007. We figured that being a long distance family for a year was long enough. We continued to pay the mortgage on the house for another year and a half. And it was on the market. But no one was looking and the only offer we got was about 50 grand less than the $150,000 we were asking. We stopped paying the mortgage after the house flooded and we had to pay to have the entire lower level re-finished. That was $6,000 after the insurance company paid their part. The mortgage company would not even talk with us about a short-sale or anything else for that matter because we had never missed or been late on a payment. Then the insurance company dropped us because the house was empty and to cover the empty house would have been more expensive than when we were living there. It was a mess.
I’m sure at this point you are wondering what this has to do with the van. I promise, I’ll get there. Anyway, when Chris took his job at Shopathome.com in Colorado in 2006 he needed a place to live. So he rented an apartment. That was ok at the time because his pay increased enough to cover the apartment. But the house didn’t sell and we were paying for both the apartment and the house for 2 1/2 years. So much for the pay increase. Also, when I moved from Illinois to Colorado, I took a huge pay cut. I was working almost twice the hours for less money. Because of this, we had childcare expenses which we didn’t have in Illinois. So, when the boys and I moved to Colorado we were actually taking home less.
We were told that a foreclosure usually took about a year in Illinois. We figured that we would recover our credit and move on. I’m not really proud of it, but I don’t see that we had any other choices. When Chris was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in October of 2009 we had not paid the mortgage for 10 months. Since I worked for the school district and I carried our health insurance, our coverage went from July to June. We hit the $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum within the first two weeks of October while Chris was in the hospital. We didn’t have any more medical to pay until everything started over in July 2010. It took us until December to hit the $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum (Chris was on a clinical trial drug and we didn’t pay for it).
So, last summer my van was not feeling very well. The air conditioning didn’t work (and it would be $3,000 to fix it) and it was just being difficult overall. Buying a new car was out of the question, so my parents sent me theirs. Trying to be helpful.
As I wrote, Herman was first my mom’s. He didn’t get named until I got him, but he was still my mom’s van first. She then upgraded to something else and my dad got rid of his old car and took the van. When this happened, my dad worked from home and my mom worked outside the home (which is why she got the new vehicle). My dad didn’t drive much. So, the van sat in their driveway and sometimes at the long-term parking lot at the Raleigh-Durham airport. My parents both retired and the van continued to sit, not getting much use. So, I needed a new vehicle and they had two but one wasn’t being used much, so they sent me the van.
Of course, my parents sending me the van would not be a simple matter. Most things aren’t when they involve my parents, especially my dad (and my brother can confirm this). My parents had the van checked out by their mechanic before it got on the trailer for its trip West. Since this is important, I will say it twice, the van was checked out by their mechanic before they sent it to me.
When I finally got the call that the van had arrived, I was so excited. I met the driver at the front of our complex and signed the papers and got the keys. I then drove the van from the parking lot where he had parked it around to our building. And nothing was ever the same.
More to come with Part 2.